Sandra Gonzalez — College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
The transition from high school to college isn’t always easy. Sandra Gonzalez was one of those students who struggled.
And a lot was riding on her success.
Her parents came to the United States from El Salvador at the tail end of the civil war there. Sandra’s Dad was from a family of 15 children—and he was the only one to get a college degree. He left his homeland to make sure his children would receive the best possible education. But by the end of her first semester at NIU, Sandra was homesick . . . and on academic probation.
So, after a little lecture from dad, she set her mind to righting the course. And, wow, did she ever.
Sandra immersed herself in the NIU culture of service, and her activities snowballed: President of the Spanish club . . . mentor to Latino students . . . volunteer at a local citizenship organization. By junior year, Sandra was so succesful she joined NIU’s rigorous honors program. She earned nearly straight A’s along with numerous scholarships….and studied abroad in Toledo, Spain.
She also won a prestigious undergrduate research assistantship at NIU’s Center for Latino and Latin American Studies. Professor Kristin Huffine, the center’s director, says Sandra was truly instrumental in launching the new “NIU Latino Oral History Project.” it aims to build an archive of Latino history in the northern Illinois region.
Sandra’s many awards and honors include being named a recipient of the of the Deacon Davis Diversity Award, which recognizes her significant contributions to improving the status of minorities on campus.
Today Sandra is a role model to many, including her three younger siblings. Her sister Wendy is a sophomore here and John, in high school, is torn between choosing NIU or SIU. .
Saturday she earned her degree in Spanish Language and Literature with a minor in Latino and Latin American Studies and she is interviewing for jobs as a high school Spanish teacher. Wherever she lands, we know she will make a big impact.